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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A text message from your pill bottle?



With today's busy lifestyle, taking prescription medications is one of those things that always aggravates me. Take this one twice daily, take that one three times daily and take the other every other day, or when there's a full moon. Who has time for that?

Well, what if you knew it was time to take your pills when the little light on the bottle turned blue?


Enter GlowCaps from Vitality. GlowCaps are mobile broadband-enabled pill bottle caps that run on the AT&T network. The caps fit on standard pill bottles and transfer data each time the bottle is used. When it's time for a dose of medicine, the bottle cap first flashes a light then emits an alarm as a reminder. If the dose is taken, information is transferred to the patient's account. If initial reminders are ignored the account can be configured to make a phone call or send a text message to the patient.


The caps also use pattern recognition technology to develop customized programs for the patient with the goal of making it easier for them to stay on track with their medications. Periodic progress reports can be sent to the patient, doctors, caregivers and even family members. And the data also can be used to automatically refill prescriptions.

Vitality GlowCaps from Vitality on Vimeo.

When my Dad was in his adult living faciity, I tried a similar device called the MedReady medication dispenser. It was basically a carousel with pill chambers and a timer. Once set, the carousel would rotate to expose the correct pills and an alarm would sound. If he didn't take the pills a modem in the device would call my cell phone to alert me. It worked well enough, but filling the carousels and configuring the unit took a fair amount of time.

The GlowCaps seem like a much simpler implemetation of the same idea. According to Kelly Starling, PR Manager for AT&T South & West Florida Markets, mobile broadband GlowCaps will not be something bought at the retail level so don't expect to see them at your local AT&T store. AT&T is the network provider and as Starling explained, the expectation is they will be distributed through pharmacies and hopefully covered by insurance companies. This makes sense since encouraging patients to take their medications as directed should lead to better health and more pills consumed.

If you want to try one, a link on the Vitality site provides an opportunity for a free GlowCap sample.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2:05pm]


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